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Remembering all those who served

On Monday, people all over the country will be celebrating Memorial Day.

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is the day we set aside to remember and honor those who have died fighting for and serving our nation.

It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Since the late 1950s, on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery.

They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.

In May 1966, President Lyndon Johnson officially declared Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

In 1968, Congress passed a bill to ensure a three-day weekend for a federal holiday; therefore, Memorial Day is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May.

I thank God for those who gave their lives so we could enjoy the freedom we have here in America.

This is still the greatest nation on earth as far as I’m concerned.

And I am convinced that God wants to bless America again.

But before that can happen, we must return to Him and also remember the spiritual veterans who laid down their lives so we could hear the good news of the Gospel.

According to traditional statements, Matthew was slain with a sword at a city of Ethiopia, Mark died after being cruelly dragged through the streets of Alexandria and Luke was hanged on an olive tree in Greece. John was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he died alone.

Peter did not count himself worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord so he was crucified upside down in Rome.

James was thrown from a pinnacle of the temple and beaten with a fuller’s club. Bartholomew was flayed alive. Andrew was bound to a cross where he preached to his persecutors until he died.

Thomas was run through the body with a lance in the East Indies. Jude was shot to death by arrows. Matthias was stoned and beheaded, and Barnabas was stoned to death.

They all died for one reason: Jesus, the greatest veteran of all, gave His life so the human race could be saved from sin.

Friend, don’t take your freedom or salvation for granted… it cost someone a very high price!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia